BE Ultimate sponsored athlete
by BE Ultimate
evke Walczak has had one goal in mind for years, and that goal has remained unchanged: play at the World Games in 2022. The COVID pandemic has been a setback for this goal, for the simple reason that it’s harder to improve at ultimate without playing consistently. But in this case, it’s a minor setback. What could have been a more devastating setback was the dislocated shoulder injury Levke suffered in February of 2020, which required surgery and months of recovery. Any other season, any other year, Levke admits she might have pushed herself too soon and started playing before she was ready on a shoulder that couldn’t handle it. 2020 proved not to be like other years though, and with the cancellation of tournaments and games came the ability to get her shoulder back to 100%. It was a long process, with six weeks post operation before she could even move it, but almost a year later she’s able to make passes that had been impossible before the surgery.
“Frisbee is always in the back of my mind. Frisbee is my sport, and a big motivation for me, not even just this year but for the past four or five years, is the World Games in 2022.”
It’s a lesson that Levke passes on to anyone struggling at the moment: one season does not define your career. It’s okay to take time to heal, it’s okay if your training has fallen off or you’ve lost a little speed. Be consistent, stay healthy, and take care of your body beyond ultimate training, since you’ll need it long after you’ve played your last competitive game. For Levke, this meant getting her shoulder back in action, taking time off, and healing fully. It also meant working on training areas that she might not have otherwise, and staying healthy and happy even though ultimate had been postponed.
“Your career is all the seasons that you play and even after you play. You want to stay in shape, you want to prevent your body from getting injured, you want to do everything to be a good athlete while you still can but also still be healthy and happy even after you’ve given up your sport.”
Levke has always been active because she enjoys it. The feeling of training, getting her body moving, and staying healthy are huge motivators for her outside of ultimate. She loves being an athlete. That means staying fit, whether or not there is something to train for, and despite quarantine she has maintained that amazing motivational mindset. But regardless of how much an athlete trains, it is always fulfilling to have something to compete at, something to train for.
“I’ve always trained for myself and my own fitness goals. I’ve always trained to be an athlete. Of course it helps the motivation to train when there’s a big tournament coming up, but my motivation has always been internal.”
Levke has learned a lot during quarantine—most profoundly, the importance of taking the time to heal properly—but she’s also found differences in the types of relationships that have emerged during lockdown. It’s no longer possible to play frisbee together or travel for tournaments, so sitting down over Zoom or some other video messaging means actually talking about each other. It’s been a strange shift, and the downside is that it’s impossible to keep up with everyone you might normally have through tournaments and travel, so picking focuses and deepening relationships have become commonplace practices. Levke has been keeping in touch with multiple teams through online platforms and workouts and is getting to know some of her teammates and community members much better than she might have otherwise. The landscape is different and constantly changing, but Levke doesn’t plan on slowing down, on or off the ultimate field. And her goal remains the same:
“Play in the World Games. Period. I want to participate in the World Games, I want to be somewhere that sport is the highlight. The World Games has been my goal for years, and still is.”